My wife's 1995 Honda Civic (300+ thousand miles) overheated (apparently a radiator problem). We have the replacement radiator, but the engine is likely shot (it definitely has a blown head gasket, and likely other problems due to overheating).
Since the car is obviously "high mileage", we don't want to put a lot into the car. And at some point likely the transmission will go as well at some point (especially with the recent overheating).
However, I've heard that used Honda engines can be had for only a few hundred dollars, due to a lot of junked Hondas in Japan (and my mechanic estimates he might be able to do an engine swap for around $300 labor). If so, that would mean that we would be "up and running" again for under $1000 total. Anyone know a good place to pick up a used Honda engine (that will fit her car)? Also, how do we identify which model motor will work in her situation?
Or is the car just not worth fixing at this point? i.e. Are we so far gone, that we should just "junk the car" and try to find something else to buy?
BTW: Yes, cost is a factor to us, as we don't have a lot of extra money. However, we are also interested in reliable (and hopefully FE) transportation for her (my CRX is still working OK for me, but we both commute to work, and carpooling between us isn't a viable option given our work locations/schedules).
http://www.car-part.com returns lots of results for 1995 Civic engines. You could also check craigslist; maybe you can find an engine or a smashed donor car or one with a good engine but bad transmission/interior/body.
What kind of shape is the rest of the car? Interior, Body, Suspension, Brakes
If this stuff is in good order it would be worth fixing. Also, plan on a replacing the timing belt and water pump when installing the engine. http://www.car-part.com is a good place to look for an engine.
With regard to the engine, there are engines available for $300-$400 from importers in the Los Angeles area. I got a D15 replacement for a 91 Civic, in November. The warehouse I purchased it from let me look at the engine and when I looked through the oil fill hole, the engine I got looked like it was almost new.
The assesement on your existing engine is 99% dead on. The Honda engine is a great engine, but if you get a coolant leak and you are not right on top of getting it fixed, right, when the coolant gets below a certain level, the engine gets hot, the head gasket chokes between the 2 and 3 cylinder and it is a death knoll.
The down side is, if/when there are other things besides the motor which are exhausted. For example, does it need a new radiator, clutch, half shafts, starter, alternator and so forth. If those are good, then you'd have parts plus labor and it would probably be a go. If they are not, then it may become a question of how long/far/time are you looking to extend the car?
As far as being reliable, after getting a replacement engine, that is what I'm planning on doing to my 89 Honda in the next 6 months or so. I have overheated mine probably 6 times and it is getting the far side of begging the question.
With regard to the engine, there are engines available for $300-$400 from importers in the Los Angeles area.
Any good contacts? Also, what about shipping to the rest of the country (as I don't live by the coast)?
Originally Posted by Gary Palmer
The down side is, if/when there are other things besides the motor which are exhausted. For example, does it need a new radiator, clutch, half shafts, starter, alternator and so forth.
Well, a lot of what you mentioned is good, as we have been taking care of the car over the years (fixing parts that break down, as needed). In fact, it was issues surrounding a new radiator (since replaced by the company, but obviously not any damage that might have been due to the possibly defective part), that probably killed the car (so we actually have a brand new radiator in the car right now.
However, the body is starting to rust, and we recently noticed some sort of electrical (alternator?) problem (which likely wouldn't be a big issue to address, but would cost something to find/fix). Also, my gut tells me that the transmission may have suffered a lot of harm along with the engine (the mechanic did mention that even our good synthetic ATF looked dark, so clearly the transmission got some heat damage as well). So I'm really on the fence (currently leaning towards "junking") at this point.
Still, it's really a question of cost. I was seeing used engines in the $750-$1100 range last night (when I was looking online), but really (given the possibly iffy transmission, and starting to rust body) by the time I got the thing installed I'm not sure it's worth it. OTOH if I could get engine+transmission together for around $1000 total, that would mean that I should (in theory) be up for around $1500 total including labor . If so, that might be "worth it" for a 95 Civic (even a 310,000+ one) in fair (or better) condition (which it hopefully would be with a new engine and transmission). And I did find it interesting (when I looked it up last night) that a 95 Civic in "fair" condition (even with over 310,000 miles on it) still has a private sale "Blue Book" value listing of $2100 (apparently the old Hondas really keep their resale value).
So I guess at this point we are really "running the numbers". If anyone knows of decent (but inexpensive) places to pick up these parts (used engine and transmission), please speak up (as that would be useful info)!
However, if it looks like a "full fix" (which at this point may include the transmission) of the car is going to be much over $1500 (and especially if it could easily be $2000+), than we will most likely try to get as much salvage as we can out of the thing, and go to "plan C". Likely "plan C" will be a used vehicle that isn't nearly as FE (and may also not be as reliable) as the Civic. But in the end you do what you can do, and I really don't have the money right now to buy a new FE car...
To answer everyone's questions, yes we did finally go with a used engine and transmission. My independent mechanic was able to pick up both an engine/transmission combo (supposedly with under 40,000 miles on it) for around $1000 total (including shipping). After labor to get the thing installed, along with other maintainece (including a new timing belt) done at the same time, the total came to around $1800.
More than we really wanted to spend (and the car was out of commission longer than we would have liked), but in theory anyway the replacement engine and transmission should be good for a long time to come.